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Summer is by far my favorite time of the year! The warm weather, my fun tank tops, playing in the water, and eating ice cream. The days get longer and my tan gets darker. I love being outside and just enjoying the “American” summer favorites. Throughout middle school, I spent almost every single day at the waterpark in my small Nebraska town. I was surrounded by friends and we could swim from open until close every day of the week!
Summer is also by far the easiest time to completely blow my budget. I get a little careless with “enjoying life” and focus less on staying on budget. During the winter, it feels so much easier to just stay inside and not spend any money. With the cold weather, you may just want to go home and stay at home all evening, but in the Summer you want to get out and enjoy all of the nice weather and fun activities!
Summer can make it easy to let loose on the budget. But staying on budget in the summer is just as important!
How to Save Money in the Summer:
Food and Drinks:
Grocery Store Ice Cream
Instead of going out for ice cream, pick up some ice cream bars at the grocery store. Even an expensive box of ice cream is cheaper than 2-3 ice cream treats at a fast food restaurant. The other day I went to Dairy Queen and got a small blizzard. $3.30. I could have gotten a small pint of ice cream at the store! Getting your great summer treats from the grocery store can save you a pretty penny instead of trying to get it at a restaurant!
If you are feeling extra creative, try searching for ways to make your own ice cream at home! I have done some of the Ziplock bag ice creams and they are always so much fun!
Fire Up Your Own Grill
Instead of going out for steaks and burgers, grill them up yourself. Creating your own masterpieces at home can be a ton of fun and can actually be a ton cheaper! Inviting people over for a barbecue can mean that you can split the costs of dishes with a few other families as well! Having someone cook a nice steak for you at a restaurant is great, but those can vary between $15-70 depending on the steak. Get good at doing it yourself and save big bucks!
Check out your grocery store for “grilling holiday” deals. Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day always mean huge money saving deals in the meat department. I usually stock up a bit during these holidays and throw some of it in the freezer for other days! Get yourself a little table top grill and fire it up yourself! I got one like this last year and saved a ton of money cooking at home!
Drink at home
I don’t know about most of you, but to me, summer nights at home need a nice cold beer. I have started to just invite people to my place to drink. You don’t have to have a fancy bartending skills to entertain either. Simply grab some bottled beers or wine coolers and call it a day! I love checking out Pinterest for drink pitcher recipes! No fancy skills needed, but you can make a pitcher of anything summer-y to drink!
I use Ibotta to earn some cash back when I buy beer from the grocery store to get an even better deal. Drinking at home already saves me money, but using Ibotta has been a summer game changer as well! When you sign up for Ibotta and redeem your first rebate, you will get a $10 welcome bonus! Ibotta can also help with those steaks mentioned above as well so be sure to check out those deals!
Happy Hour or Late Night
If you don’t want to drink at home all of the time, check out happy hour specials. Many places have afternoon drink and food specials, but be sure to call and check! Every restaurant location can be a little different, so make sure you know what you are getting. Also, get there with plenty of time. You don’t want to miss out on the great deals because you were just a few minutes late!
Late night can have a few great deals too! Some restaurants have cheaper deals after a certain time of night! You can check out Drank Bank and search your local area to find deals in your city. I found a ton of different places that I didn’t know had happy hour when I started searching through the website!
Discounted Gift Cards
I truly didn’t think that it was worth the extra effort when I first started looking into this! When you are shopping at major stores often, getting discounted gift cards on Cardpool can save you a good chunk of change! Cardpool offers you a gift card at the fraction of the price! For example, a few weeks ago, I bought a $30 for $24.50. While the $5.50 isn’t the biggest savings, there are good prices on other things as well. I was a little bit nervous the first time because what if the card ended up being empty! But Cardpool offers a guarantee for up to a year after you purchase the gift card! This includes restaurants, groceries, and so many other places! When you sign up for Cardpool and buy your first giftcard, you will get a $5 bonus too!
Raise is another website to get discounted gift cards! When you sign up for Raise, you get $5 towards gift cards if you make a purchase in the first 30 days of signing up! Get gift cards for all of your latest summer projects and outings!
Summer Fun and Adventures:
Look into getting a summer pass or a membership for places you want to go. Most pools, zoos, and museums have discounted memberships that make it WAY cheaper to go. The memberships often include discounts on other things while you are there too. I started looking into a zoo membership because it is actually cheaper to get the membership if we were to go more than 2 times in the next year. After the upfront costs, you can practically go for free! The more you use it, the cheaper it becomes per visit! Remember to pack a snack or eat before and after because the concessions can get expensive quick!
This was probably my childhood favorite because our town library was close enough to my childhood home that I could ride my bike in the summer. I was able to read and read until my heart was content.
Libraries are full of E-books, audiobooks, movies, CDs and of course books! There are a ton of benefits of using your public libraries. Also, they are usually well air conditioned, so it might just be a cold place to hang out on a hot summer afternoon for some free AC! If you have younger kids, see what they have for family fun!
I have started to use Kindle Unlimited instead of going to the library regularly. Kindle Unlimited lets me “rent” books on my Kindle for just a small monthly price! If you read like I do, it is well worth it! They have a huge selection of different types of books!
Backyard Pool Parties
Get a backyard pool or find a friend that has one. My apartment complex had a pool last year and we were spoiled. Having even a kiddie pool in your backyard can help you cool off without the added expense of paying to go to the pool every time. I have been weighing the pros and cons of getting a pool for my house and will probably end up getting something smaller for the first year!
Swim at a lake
I know that people live all over the country, but getting a park pass for one vehicle can often be a ton cheaper than paying for the whole family to get into a pool. If this is accessible for you, I definitely recommend. You can also bring snacks and stuff to grill at most lakes, where pools rarely allow outside food. The water might be a little muddy, but finding a good lake for an afternoon can be a ton of fun without so many rules! Just make sure you are watching kids because there is often no lifeguard at lakes!
State Park Passes
I didn’t buy one last year, but I got one this fall. I bought the annual pass for $31. The day passes are between $6-10. I have already used it for 3 days this year and if I just use it for two more days, I will have my money worth. Check out your state park annual passes and see how many days you would have to use to make it worth it! I love checking out the different park passes!
Free things to do
Instead of doing all of the big, expensive attractions, find the cheap adventures by searching free things to do in your local area. You never know what you might find! Here is a list of 37 things to do instead of spending money and some of them are perfect for the summer time!
Some places may offer a cheaper time or day. Find out when your local movie theater offers cheaper tickets. Instead of going on Friday night, see if you can go on a Tuesday morning or afternoon. My local movie theater has $6 “Early Bird” Movies. If you go before 11 AM, its cheaper than going in the evening! They also have $5 Tuesday movies! Checking into these deals can help you save big bucks when it comes to going on your summer adventures.
Groupon and Ebates
Groupon is a website that has discounted tickets and packages for all different travel adventures. They have discounted tickets for amusement parts, some of your favorite local restaurants, and some great discounted vacation packages for any traveling you might be doing! Checking Groupon before you make any vacation plans might score you some great deals! I have also purchased great discounted mini golf tickets and wine tasting gift certificates from Groupon and enjoyed those during the summer!
Ebates is a little bit different! Ebates earns you cash back on your online shopping! If you are booking a vacation online, check out Ebates first to see if you can get any added cash back for booking your trip online! When you sign up to use Ebates, and make your first purchase with them, you get a $10 welcome bonus!
Travel during off season
Not necessarily a summer tip, but traveling during the fall or winter instead of the middle of the summer can be a lot cheaper than traveling during peak vacation times. Hotels, airlines, and gas will likely be cheaper and so are some of the touristy spots! Plus you will skip the large crowds! If you can make it work in your schedule, save the traveling for a different time of the year and enjoy your summer doing things near you!
Turn up the temperature
If you know you aren’t going to be home all day, there is no reason to cool your home like a meat locker. Even a few degrees difference can save a decent amount of change. Saving energy will help cut costs and shock when that electric bill comes in! Turning on a few fans can make a huge difference in the home as well! If you are going to be gone on vacation for a few days, it might be worth turning it up farther or turning it off completely! (as long as pets are coming with you!) Why pay to cool an empty home!
Run Appliances at night:
Running things like the dishwasher, washer, and dryer at night take less energy to keep the house cool while you are running them! Saving a little bit of energy by keeping the house cooler during the hottest parts of the afternoon.
Close the Curtains:
Keeping the curtains closed during the day can help keep the place cooler than having direct sunlight shining into the home! If you can keep shades or curtains closed throughout the hottest parts of the day, open them in the mornings and evenings when it might be a little bit cooler out!
There are a ton of other great summer savings hacks, but these are just a few of my favorites. Whether you are single or have kids to entertain, you can definitely get the most bang for your buck! Even though I love some of my cheap and free things to do, remember to save money when it counts! I recommend making a list of the things that you are willing to splurge a little more on! Maybe it’s time at the lake or going to the county/ state fair! When you save money on every day things, you get to spend a little more on some of the once a year adventures!
Ultimately, remember that there must be a balance in life with saving money and making memories!
Try to remember to do both of them throughout this summer time fun!